It’s been quite a week or two around the homestead. First, I watched the Cubs win the Series, something I frankly thought would never happen in my lifetime (since it didn’t happen in my diehard superfan grandmother’s lifetime, either) and then we…well, not me… elected Voldemort to the highest public office in the land.
I am one of those people you may have read about who cried the night it happened, cried when she woke up, cried on the way to work and then at work. I have a good boss who let me go home and work there for the rest of the day, I admit to having a hard time getting through those 24 hours. By Thursday morning however, I’d pulled up from the tailspin and got back to some kind of normal.
When Dylan and I realized we were serious about one another, we talked about how we’d choose to live one day. We discussed riding around the country in an RV, working remotely. We visited RV sales lots and did a ton of research, with the intention to make a serious attempt at it after we got married. Life being what it is, those plans were repeatedly postponed and even though we were frustrated, I often wondered if we were pushing a hope many years beyond our ages, and if it was simply too early to retire from a traditional life. So we set our sights on another state: Arizona, particularly Tucson. I’ve loved Tucson since I first went there at 19 and always wanted to return to Arizona to live. Chicago has become financially impossible for so many and simply a frustrating place to exist thanks to our mayor and the seemingly endless rising costs.
Then, at some point last year when it became clear that oh wait, Trump is serious and so are his fans, we looked at one another and agreed that if he were to be elected into office, we could not stand idly by and live under his banner. To stay, we felt then and now feel more, would be tacitly complicit. So we began to talk more about moving out of the country beyond simple daydreams, and Dylan mentioned Thailand, where he’d lived for a year many moons ago. At that time, visas were easy to get and it was insanely cheap to live there, so after some selling, I agreed to look into it.
While working from home on Friday, I could hear him tapping away on his computer and then a disgruntled, “oh”. He said that apparently, a major visa crackdown had occurred and in fact, long story short, moving there would be very difficult. The thriving ex-pat community is apparently safe due to being grandfathered in, but those who intend to make a go of it there will find it far harder to do. I’ll admit that this was a bigger disappointment to Dylan than to me, I couldn’t get my head around it in a comfortable way and I felt relief when he said he thought the door was closed.
Shortly after, I actually don’t know how, we stumbled on another option: Yucatan, Mexico. The cost is almost identical to Chiang Mai in Thailand (read: insanely cheap) and there is even an option for beachfront living with the Gulf of Mexico mere feet away. Or if we choose to live in the capital city of Merida, that same beach town is only 45 minutes north, with the resort towns of Cancun and Playa del Carmen about three hours to the east. Yucutan is the safest state in Mexico and Merida the safest city (I checked. A few times). There is a thriving ex-pat community there and jobs both in-country and remote through American companies are plentiful (though the visa difference is about $250). We dove into resource websites and looked at properties, and it looks (and feels) more and more like a viable option. I’ll admit that the blogs that seem to say a lot of “don’t expect hot water in the kitchen” and “lots of bugs” I’m reading shake my confidence a bit, but I’m a comfortable, squishy American.
The visas are easy to come by with a simple show of bank records, we can bring our dog without quarantine, we don’t have to worry about selling our car because we can bring it with us (with a bit of extra paperwork and cost but that is perhaps easier than finding someone to take over our payment), and aside from selling off a fair bit of our stuff that we’re not attached to, can go there somewhat unencumbered. This is all far enough off that I’m grateful we don’t have to make announcements or decisions, we still have to renew our passports, but our lease is up June 1st so unless we find somewhere to stay for a little while, that would be our departure date. It’s a very long drive (and I’m not entirely sure how safe it would be) so getting there takes its own research we haven’t even begun yet.
That’s the latest, kind of. This country is showing signs of coming apart at the seams along with the relationships and institutions we value. I don’t see myself giving up residency or loyalty, but for the next four years I can safely say that I don’t want to be confused with someone who willingly supports a land that allowed this to happen. For us, that means living in country and going on as if. I’ve been conflicted, with all the people saying, “Don’t leave, stand and fight” but, honestly, that’s not where we are choosing to put our energies. I don’t want to fight, we aren’t fighters. We are explorers, creatives, wanderers, experiencers. We want to live our lives discovering and learning, not fighting, no matter how righteous the fight may be. Almost half the country didn’t vote and half of those, voted for him. The other half voted for someone most didn’t even really want. Who exactly are we fighting with and for?
This is a strange and scary time, literally the only peace I have is the idea that we won’t be here to watch it all unfold. I know some will see it as throwing in the towel and running away because apparently we’re all supposed to stand our grounds and prove one by one that we’re better than all this. If I was in my 20s and this happened, I would be downtown protesting with everyone else, hoping to be arrested so I could have my statement literally on record. However, I am almost 41 now and I’ve been around the block once or twice, and I know that things are cyclical. We have endured horrible occurrences in our nation: slavery, smallpox blankets that killed off entire nations and practices that killed their animals, a war fought inside our own borders by our own people, 9/11, some terrible Presidential decisions, and a seemingly endless appetite for military action. We’re still here and things are better, even though it doesn’t seem so in November 2016.
But I also have the urge to go. To travel. To not find myself in my 50s chained to my desk, doing the same designs I’d been doing for a decade. How terrible a life not lived. We don’t have kids, we likely won’t, we have little holding us back. We love our families, but we don’t see them much and frankly, getting people to visit us in the winter in Chicago is an entirely different thing than a visit in the winter near Cancun.